December 19 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, January 18, 2014
The chairman of the Football Association praised the standard of facilities for grassroots players during a visit to Norwich today.
Greg Dyke was given a tour of the Norfolk FA’s Football Development Centre (FDC) at Bowthorpe Park where those in charge of the game in the county called for more funding to increase the number of 11-a-side pitches for youth and adult teams to play on.
Mr Dyke spoke with officials from the Norfolk FA and joined in with a training session with the Hethersett Athletic junior team this afternoon.
The FA chairman is in Norfolk today to also watch Norwich City’s home game against Hull City at 3pm.
Mr Dyke said funding was limited, but he was keen to improve grassroots facilities to help improve the health of the nation.
“This facility is very good and a lot of other counties would like this facility.
“I think the popularity of football is higher than ever and we have got to try and get the facilities so that people can and will continue to play. I’m especially keen on 3G pitches, particularly during winters like this, when pitches can’t be used,” he said.
The FDC was officially opened by former Norwich City goalkeeper Robert Green four years ago and includes eight 5-a-side 3G pitches, a 7-a-side 3G training arena, and an 11-a-side grass pitch.
Mr Dyke said there was a decline in the number of people playing 11-a-side football. However, the numbers of children playing the game was growing and 5-a-side football was popular.
“There is a particular problem with the squeeze on local authority finances and it means they are charging more for pitches at a time when it is difficult for people to pay it and the pitches are not as well maintained and some are as bad as when I played 40 years ago,” he said.
Michael Banham, chairman of the Norfolk FA, said Mr Dyke was following in the footsteps of predecessor David Bernstein after a similar visit in 2012.
“It is brilliant and it is great to have him come down and it is nice to get our views to him and he will hopefully take that back. We need more funding for 11 vs 11 football and need to address facilities. Youth football is doing very well, but adult football is on a bit of a decline,” he said.